Creating an authentic personal brand is important because everything that we develop in business is based on creating a personal brand. As sales reps, polishing your personal brand must be a priority to stand out to everyone no matter where you go or where you are.
Emily Soccorsy and Justin Foster are co-founders of intrinsic branding practice Root + River. They have combined their experience and expertise in branding and passion for personal growth to guide individuals in combining authentic original brands that attract new opportunities and levels of possibilities.
The intrinsic practice
Both Emily and Justin believe that every great brand is a spiritual experience. As coaches, they guide individuals regardless of the roles they play in the organization. Their goal is to make them understand that deep foundational soul of their brand and put that into practical use every day.
Branding is a practice, which means you need to do it every single day whether you are aware of it or not. Intrinsic practice will help you be aware of the things that you do and get organized around them so that those things will have far greater impact for a longer time.
What is branding?
In simple terms, a brand is how other people experience what you believe. The brand is how people experience you in everyday situations and conversations. If you understand what that experience is giving to people, you can tap into that in a more conscious manner to help build your brand in a way that has greater impact.
Frank Rogers is a good example. He is a great salesperson who developed a thought leadership brand. He doesn’t wait for the market to tell him what to say. Instead, he leads from the front.
Chip Scholz from North Carolina is another example. He is an executive coach with a very memorable brand who uses a direct and Socratic approach in his coaching.
Regardless of the audience you are talking to and the role you have, whether you’re a coach or a sales leader, you must follow the same principles because you are responsible for two brands. First, you’re responsible for your personal brand, and second, you’re responsible for the brand that you are representing.
There are three specific qualities in intrinsic branding: inner traits that show up in the outer world.
- Be original.
Don’t be a karaoke singer or cover band. Be an original thinker, an original producer.
- Articulate well.
Learn how to tell your story eloquently, consistently, and compellingly. Do this without hesitation and insecurities. Share your story from the heart with conviction.
- Be vulnerable.
Do not give a packaged version of yourself. It is best to carry the lightest armor you can because when you do, you emanate something.
All three traits help to make a brand a positive contagion.
Anyone in any position has an opportunity to take an inventory of what their true expertise is and what they are better at doing than anybody else. If you are good in sales, ask yourself how it manifests, what it looks like for you, and in what aspect of the selling process you are crushing it.
These are difficult questions to answer because most times, what comes easily to us doesn’t get much value. But if you are able to tune into the things that you are good at and able to share those with people, you’ll have the opportunity to be an original thinker and brand yourself as a thought leader in whatever sliver of space that is.
Make sure that you share the tips that you have and give feedback to people who are open to it. You begin to build your brand by being a thought leader when you differentiate yourself in those conversations.
Many feel apprehensive in speaking and expressing their original self because of two reasons: the fear of becoming an over-promoter and the social emphasis on humility.
There is a fear of overdoing things and the feeling of bombarding people with content they don’t really need. But sharing is a moral obligation if the content is good and you are producing something that is helpful for the community.
The second one is humility.
While humility is a beautiful trait, it is unfortunately a terrible brand strategy because you have to suspend the idea that you’re not special.
From a very early age, we are conditioned to put the emphasis on other people and not on ourselves. People who talk about themselves are looked down upon.
But the truth is you have a voice and you have a message. You have something that transcends the product or service that you are selling, and you have a piece of yourself to offer to the world. You can’t do these things if you choose the road of humility.
As a sales rep, it is your role to share your gifts with the world, and the way people can access your gifts is through your products and services.
Authenticity comes from knowing who you are and what you can do. It stems from acceptance and conviction. When you discover who you are, the next thing you need to master is how to achieve consistency.
Austin Kleone mentioned in his book Steal Like an Artist that you need to steal from the people who inspire you instead of copying them.
Brene Brown is a great example. She built her brand by investigating what she found interesting and curious about the world. She shares what she learns and talks openly about it, and she is authentic and consistent in what she does.
The same is true for Gary V. Many would say he is “too much” but that’s the way he builds his brand. He shows up, answers questions, and talks a lot. But still, he is being paid for it because he is sharing something that he is good at. If you’re going to hold yourself accountable to something, hold yourself accountable to authenticity.
The TSE brand prides itself on being personal to our clients. Even now with thousands of people listening to our podcasts, we make it a goal to be the same people we were before. When people connect with us on LinkedIn, we try to communicate with them and send something personal.
In Justin’s assessment, The Sales Evangelist brand strives to be inspirational before it’s informational. As it turns out, peoples’ brains are full of information, but there’s always room for inspiration. People welcome inspiration because it’s nourishment to the soul.
Listen to your audience
Listen to your audience. People often talk about the ideal market in terms of sales but we don’t like that language. We favor the ideal audience and what you need to do with an audience is to take in their feedback. Your audience can give you energy and you can respond to that. It will help you hold things a little bit longer and move through things a bit quicker.
Salespeople must be responsive to the audience from an emotional standpoint. You don’t do this by sending out surveys every other day. You do this by asking them questions, listening to them, and incorporating the things they said through your work.
When you have something to say, you need to say it well, which means you need to write and speak with a level of excellence. Building a great authentic brand requires one to both write and speak well because it’s the only way that the audience can access you. You need to find a balance.
You can make a system where you go out, do things, and speak. Learn how to produce interesting and consumable content. Learn how to create an explanation that’s going to incite curiosity and interest to engage people in conversation.
It is important to simplify your message and infuse energy and emotion as much as possible. It’s got to have the unexpected quality as well.
Simple, unexpected, and emotional are the three ingredients in making interesting content that people would be inclined to share it to the world.
This is what articulation is and it comes from practice. It is a type of discipline. The skill of articulating well isn’t a natural ability; it’s a product of frequent practicing.
You have to push back against several thousand years of biological and social programming to become a great brand. Branding is far more about conviction. It comes from having an open front and strong back, according to Brene Brown. It is important to show your audience a little bit of the behind-the-scenes. Vulnerability means sharing your true self to the world. It is about being honest and telling people how you are doing or what you are doing.
Many find this challenging, however, and the line between what’s private and what’s public is difficult to cross.
Being vulnerable means sharing parts of the journey: the little lessons and failures along the way and opening yourself up to feedback. Contrary to what many think, vulnerability isn’t about confessing everything. It’s about showing your client that you are human and that you are relatable.
Michael Jordan failed so often that he was cut from his team, but he was able to push through, and that made him more human. It made him relatable and people have hope because of his story. They believe that they can do it, too.
Show the mess a little bit without being too self-deprecating. Vulnerability means a lot of different things but for us; it’s a behavior and an action.
Who you are as a brand
Set aside time to dive into who you are as a brand. Ask some thought-provoking questions and do the deep work with the intention of translating that into your action. Remember that you are your first client. It is important to practice self-care and to take care of the energy centers of physical health, mental health, emotional health, and spiritual health.
Be better so that everyone around you benefits. The world needs the best version of you, not a worn-out version of you. There is no better brand than vibrancy, and vibrancy comes from nourishment.
“Creating an Authentic Personal Brand” episode resources
Check out rootandriver.com for resources on how to create an authentic personal brand. Connect with Emily Soccorsy and Justin Foster on LinkedIn.
Sales Management Simplified by Mike Weinberg is a great book that teaches simple concepts about sales leadership. Check it out and tell me what chapter of the book you liked the most.
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